I've made no secret about my crush on Israeli/British chef Yotam Ottolenghi. When I heard he was releasing a followup to his game-changing vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, I pre-ordered it on Amazon months ahead of the release date, and actually squealed out loud when the box showed up at my door. It was like finding $20 in the back pocket of last season's shorts, or an unexpected Christmas present from an overly generous great aunt.
The first recipe I tried was this mango and curried chickpea salad. At first glance, the ingredient list is characteristically long (an Ottolenghi trademark). But the actual prep time is much shorter than I expected, and there are a few liberties I have taken to use less pans and simplify without losing the key flavors of the dish.
Fresh juicy mangoes are the first mandate. And caramelization is the second. Cook your onions and cauliflower in a good, heavy pan and don't be afraid of a little char. The rich, caramelized flavors bring all of the other spices and fresh mango and lime into that perfect Ottolenghi balance.
Ottolenghi's Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 25 min Total Time: 40 min (unless you cook your own chickpeas)
14 oz / 400 g can chickpeas, drained; OR 3/4 cup / 150 g dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight with 2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp caster sugar
5 Tbs grapeseed or other cooking oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 cauliflower, broken into small, bite-sized florets
1 large, ripe mango, diced
1 green chili, seeded and chopped finely
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves removed and chopped coarsely
3 Tbs lime or lemon juice
3 handfuls baby spinach
If cooking your own chickpeas, drain and rinse them. Place in a saucepan with plenty of water, bring to a gentle simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, til completely soft. Drain.
Place coriander, mustard and cumin seeds in a large skillet and dry roast over medium heat for about 2 minutes, til spices are fragrant and mustard begins to pop. Finely crush spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then mix in curry powder, turmeric, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spice mix, turn heat to medium, and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes, until onion is completely soft. Add onions to chickpeas and set aside.
In same pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add cauliflower, season with salt, and add 2 Tbs of water. Cover pan and steam for about 4 minutes. Remove cover, and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, til cauliflower is browned and crisp-tender.
Add cauliflower to onions and chickpeas; stir well.
To serve, arrange spinach on a platter, then layer on cauliflower mixture, mangoes, chile, cilantro, lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. Serve warm or room temperature.